Thirteen charities that help autistic people, disabled people and those with a learning disability who are struggling with the effects of the pandemic will benefit from £2.4 million of additional government funding.
The money will support people of all ages to improve their physical and mental wellbeing by funding services to provide practical support for disabled children, set up and expand helplines, provide mental health and wellbeing support for both staff and disabled people and support advocacy.
This follows the success of a £1.2 million fund given to charities in July 2020 to provide COVID-19 support. Minister for Care, Helen Whately said:
The new funding will support the important work these 13 charities are doing to help people affected by the pandemic, including:
- practical support is being offered to disabled children and their families, such as distributing sensory equipment and play at home kits, as well as virtual education, learning and play opportunities
- helplines have been set up or expanded to provide information and expert, tailored advice to support disabled people and their families throughout the pandemic as well as COVID-19-specific digital resources, including to ensure disabled people understand their eligibility for the vaccine
- charities have provided online courses and wellbeing calls to support the emotional and mental wellbeing of disabled people and provide virtual support to reduce social isolation during the pandemic
- frontline staff working with disabled children and adults have had their wellbeing and resilience supported, including through qualifications in Positive Behaviour Support to help those working with people who have the most complex needs
- the advocacy sector has also been boosted to support those seeking to access advocacy services to ensure disabled people and their families and carers are able to make their voices heard
Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Justin Tomlinson said:
In July 2020 a £1.2 million grant was provided to seven learning disability and autism organisations to provide direct COVID-19 support to individuals, families and carers during the first wave. This latest funding is an extension to this, and to ensure the support reaches as many people as possible it has been extended to 6 more charities providing services across England.
This funding is for work which has had a significant positive impact on autistic people, disabled people and those with a learning disability, as well as their families and carers.
One of the projects run through the charity Sense has provided over 1,000 arts, sports and wellbeing kits to disabled children, families and adults to help support them through the pandemic.
Leonard Cheshire has supported 1,700 young disabled people since April 2020, delivering over 200 virtual sessions to combat loneliness. This was particularly effective between academic terms, and ensured regular engagement avoids any break in routines which can exacerbate existing anxiety and mental health issues.
Minister for Civil Society, Baroness Barran, said:
The government has taken action to protect and support disabled people throughout the pandemic as it is clear COVID-19 disproportionately impacts certain groups, including those with specific health conditions. This includes prioritising those at risk for vaccinations, advising those clinically extremely vulnerable to shield when required and providing direct support to help them do this, and ensuring that NHS Volunteer Responders are on hand to collect medicine, deliver shopping and provide other essential tasks to ensure they were supported.
The government has also provided billions of pounds worth of additional welfare support during the COVID-19 crisis. This is on top of £4.6 billion to support local authorities to cope with added pressures, including in adult social care, to make sure disabled people are able to access the support they need throughout the pandemic.